Manfred Kets de Vries



Keynote Speaker Category: Business, Change, Leadership, Organisational Change, The Future of Work,


Manfred Kets de Vries is one of the world’s foremost thinkers on leadership. He is the Founder of the Kets de Vries Institute (KDVI) a consulting firm that specialises in organisational development and transformation. He is also a clinical professor of leadership development, he holds the Raoul de Vitry d’Avaucourt Chair of Leadership Development at INSEAD, France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. He is also the director of INSEAD’s Global Leadership Centre.


“The Leadership Mystique” (2001),
“The Leader on the Couch” (2006),
“The Hedgehog Effect” (2011),
“Mindful Leadership Coaching,”
“Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership” (2018).

In the media:
He is a regular writer for numerous magazines and his work has been featured in top-tier publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Fortune, BusinessWeek, The Economist, and Financial Times. He also frequently contributes blogs to INSEAD Knowledge and the Harvard Business Review.

The CEO whisperer: ‘Every leader needs a fool’

What is means to embark on a journey of change 

Finding Direction When You’re Feeling Lost

From hero to zero – when leaders turn bad: Manfred Kets de Vries at TEDxAmsterdam


Manfred Kets de Vries is a Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Organisational Change at INSEAD.

Kets de Vries believes the effectiveness of employees, particularly individuals in leadership positions, determines how the organisational “machine” performs, and what differentiates truly great organisations are the attitudes of its people.

He is on a mission to create the kinds of companies that bring out the best in everyone, leading to increased productivity, higher retention, greater creativity, reduced organisational stress, greater work satisfaction, and more fulfilling lives.

Straddling the worlds of management, psychology and economics, Kets de Vries brings a unique and robust perspective to leadership and the dynamics of individual and organisational change. Drawing from deep knowledge and expertise gained over decades of working with C-suite executives, his entertaining and informative presentations show that winning organisations are those where people can reach their maximum potential: a coaching culture prevails, employees possess a solid dose of emotional intelligence, and employees at all levels feel empowered to have courageous conversations.

Kets de Vries calls these authentizotic organizations, or places of work where people feel at their best. If we are to understand the dynamics of leadership, teams, and organisational culture, we must be willing to go beyond the directly observable. Leaders must have “night vision,” the ability to help individuals and organisations transform by paying attention to a number of company characteristics: internal social dynamics, the intricate playing field between leaders and followers, and the unconscious and out-of awareness processes and structures that influence the behaviour of individuals and teams. It’s in authentizotic organizations where people find meaning in their work, enjoy the people they work with, have pride in what they’re doing, and trust those they work for and with!

Kets de Vries is also a pioneer in leadership group coaching, using it as an experiential training ground for developing more effective leaders. He’s perfected his model over the last 20 years of customising and delivering programs to top-level executives; it’s a proven process whereby people are nudged to reinvent themselves. Today, it’s successfully applied all over
the world, in organizations as diverse as Accenture, BP, Deutsche Bank, Ericsson, GE Capital, Goldman Sachs, Heineken, KPMG, Lego, Lufthansa, McKinsey, Nokia, Novo Nordisk, Shell,
Unilever and Volvo Car Corporation.

In introducing the leadership group coaching methodology to INSEAD (facilitated by having been the founding-director of INSEAD’s Global Leadership Center and INSEAD’s master’s program on change management) Kets de Vries has helped change the culture of the institution and the nature of its programs. The ultimate goal of his intervention technique has been to make organisations and their leaders more effective and more humane. To further enable this orientation to individual and organisational change, he is also the Chairman of the Kets de Vries Institute (KDVI), a strategic leadership development
consulting firm. He is very much focused on teaching decision makers how to improve their performance by knowing themselves and acting on that knowledge more effectively—and how to use that knowledge to create better places to work.

By putting humans at the centre of his work, Kets de Vries’ presentations and consulting explore and make accessible the interface between management theory, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, executive coaching, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. His many areas of expertise range from C-suite team building, executive coaching, leadership (the bright and dark side) and entrepreneurship, to change management and organisational development, career dynamics, talent and cross-cultural management and succession planning.

I can’t imagine that there are many courses of this nature. If one is willing to take on truths
about oneself, this is the course to take. Passionate and insightful. It is obvious that Manfred
loves his work and cares about us as people.

Lisa ForsheyABSA Bank, South Africa

Manfred is superb at helping CEOs understand their current environment and understand
themselves much better. The forum helps you feel less lonely as you discuss common issues
and threats. You assess more deeply what you are trying to achieve. We shared our mistakes
and learnt from the different tracks that are possible. Manfred’s leadership of the group
enabled us to help each other to open our eyes around the issues we had. There is a huge
impact from having input from people who are detached and supportive. There were no
barriers. Everything was there to be discussed and to be helped.

Ron BolgerFormer Managing Partner, KPMG Ireland

I had recently taken on new responsibility. The new leadership position put me into a
stressful environment, adding to worries about my work-life balance. It was a lonely place
and I was becoming frazzled. It was hard to find a proper mentor. My Chairman
recommended Manfred’s course. It was a major commitment of time but I found it a
liberation to be there. The experience has been staggering and a complete eye opener. I
realized I was assuming burdens that I did not need to take on. The discussions give you a
wealth of common sense to work from.

David RossChief Executive, Arthur J. Gallagher



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